I recently came across a Washington Post article that talks about the recent Echo awards in Germany. At the awards ceremony, two German rappers Kollegah and Farid Bang received an award for their record that has a song that features a line where one of the artists brags that “my body more defined than Auschwitz inmates’.” The presentation of the award was quickly criticized by Jewish communities throughout Germany and said that this type of behavior is indicative of a greater problem of rising antisemitism. Given the prevalence of music in modern culture and the cultural weight that it has on young people, it is especially worrisome that acts of antisemitism can be excused by some under the guise of freedom of artistic expression. And given the startling statistics that we have seen in class about the underwhelming about of Holocaust education that so many young people have, it is a potential risk that artists could utilize that gap in information about the Holocaust and capitalize on it with incorporating evocations about the conditions of human beings in concentration camps.
On February 22nd, German figure skater, Nicole Schott took to the Olympic ice using a piece from the score of Schindler’s List to accompany her performance. The performance received tremendous backlash on Twitter and prompted the TMZ article that asked “how did she Nazi this coming?”. A similar article came out of the Jewish Daily Forward and was my first exposure to the issue. Schott’s performance received backlash from many, among these was a rather spirited tweet from comedian Leslie Jones which received 1.4
thousand likes. It is worth noting, however, that Schott is not the first figure skater to use the award winning score as accompaniment. In fact, Johnny Weir, a figure skater who has appeared in another student’s blog stating that in a past life he was a Jewish Girl from WWII Poland, has also skated to the score.
While I am not offended by the choice, I do find it odd especially for a German skater. Therefore, I am interested in Schott’s reasoning behind the song selection. I wonder how much of the backlash can be attributed to a heightened awareness given recent events such as Charlottesville. While the choice does strike me as a odd, I do believe that there must be room to honor the Holocaust through artistic expression. .
If society makes the Holocaust off limits on the world stage, doesn’t that amount to a kind of collective denial? If the reason we are adverse to hearing a song associated with the Holocaust utilized in an artistic form is because it forces us to remember what we wish to forget, then perhaps Ms. Schott has accomplished more than she is being credited for.
An article published on The Forward on January 24, 2018, analyzes the lyrics of Canadian Jewish Rapper Drake’s surprise single. He says the phrase “Violatin’ the Treaty of Versailles” in first person, as a comparison to the actions of Adolf Hitler after WWI. As comparisons to Hitler and the Nazi regime are very controversial today, the article asks whether it’s okay that Drake compares himself to Hitler. In recent times, comparing someones bad personality to Hitler has been common, as seen in television, movies and music. This seems to suggest that someone being mean or breaking the rules could be acting like Hitler.
As discussed in class, memories of the Holocaust often frame Hitler as the only bad person responsible for the Holocaust. While his contributions were very large, compliance at many levels enabled Hitler to carry out what he had planned. Especially in Drake’s song and the discourse surrounding it, many American citizens’ memory of the Treaty of Versailles is that Hitler was the one responsible for violating it. After reading this article and listening to the song, it seems reasonable that people are seeing a comparison between Drake and Hitler due to the American memory of the Holocaust.
I think this link between Drake and Hitler is a bit far fetched. After reading the Forward article, I found another article from Genius that explains more about the meaning behind Drake’s lyrics which suggests that he used this event to reflect on his Instagram handle, @champagnepapi, which violates the Treaty as champagne was protected by French law in this treaty. Although, I find it interesting that many people see this comparison as directly linked to Hitler and his actions which were a precursor to the Holocaust.
Drake’s Song: Diplomatic Immunity.
Link to The Forward article: https://forward.com/schmooze/392751/drake-compares-himself-to-hitler-in-new-song/
Link to the Genius article: https://genius.com/a/drake-may-have-accidentally-compared-himself-to-adolf-hitler-on-diplomatic-immunity